Life & Style

Newcastle's Rob Eisenberg is asking you to Vote Earth Now

Whilst we may be distracted by the world of Covid that we are currently living through, Newcastle local Rob Eisenberg has been directing his energies into another pressing issue.

A project two years in the making Vote Earth Now launched at the beginning of August 2021 with Rob’s sole purpose being to help track which politicians are taking the biggest climate action - not just offering hopes and prayers - and actually doing something.

Rob Eisenberg Vote Earth Now
Rob Eisenberg - Vote Earth Now

Interested to know just what prompted Rob, who by day is a local Ear, Nose, and Throat surgeon, to undertake such a project we caught up over zoom to get all the details.

Was there a specific event, or moment that initiated the idea of Vote Earth Now?  

I'd say it was the almost post-traumatic stress feelings I experienced following the bushfires in 2019 and the drought leading up to that, which was so intense.

I was at Cellito Beach at the time of the bushfires and the path I walk down to get to the beach was so bare, all the trees had thinned out, and all the birds had gone because it was so hot. Then when I was surfing ash was falling all around me, and when I was having my coffee I watched helicopters picking up water from the lake and dumping it on the bushfires, and I just thought far out is this the future? Is this how we’re going to be living?

Shortly after that, my two girls, who are 17 and 19, told me that they won’t be having kids, they can’t bring kids into this kind of world, and that was it. From that point I couldn’t sleep, I kept trying to rack my brains about what I could do.

In the past, I’ve signed petitions, been to protests and done what personal actions I could. But, as Bill Gates said, “politicians have 10 times the power to fight climate change than private enterprise or indivduals”. I realised that by pledging our votes now it brings forward the power of our vote at election time to right now. To measure the effect we needed the Climate Action Score.

Can you explain how Vote Earth Now works?

The thing politicians care about most is our vote so when you pledge your vote through Vote Earth Now you’re registering your intent to vote on climate on election day.

We send an email (copied to you) notifying your local Member of Parliament and we also help you to share Vote Earth Now with your friends and family.

We want the politicians to get our emails and understand they won’t be getting our votes unless they have proven action. They will then go to the party room and explain they’re getting all these emails from their electorate telling them that they won’t vote for us unless we do something about Climate Change.

We’re so lucky to live in a democracy, just ask Afghanistan, but it’s about using democracy properly and that means using your vote properly, its precious.

"It’s more important than doing your recycling, or buying an electric car and it only takes 30 seconds. "

There is quite a bit of information to digest on Vote Earth Now, what has been the #1 question you've received?

I’d say the questions are mostly around the Climate Action Score and how do we know it’s not politically biased, how can we trust this score?

I answer this by saying that Vote Earth Now is more of an education website, and the Climate Action Score is just facts collated using the website “They Vote for You”. It’s not partisan, we’re just reporting on what is happening in parliament, how our politicians are voting, and it’s up to you what you do with this information.

It’s quite a telling visual, have you received much of a response since launching?

We certainly received a reaction when we launched, as soon as we posted on social media we were trolled massively, with a lot of random and horrible stuff that had nothing to do with what we were talking about. It was remarkable but we’ve been able to navigate around it.

In the first week we launched, more than 1000 emails went out and a number of state and local politicians have actually contacted me, even though they aren’t listed, it is all about the Federal politicians, for now. I’ve seen reply emails from a number of Federal politicians to their electors. It is great to see them responding as it means the message is getting through. However, actions speak louder than words.

For people who are feeling a little helpless when it comes to Climate Change, what would you say to them?

I know exactly how they feel, I felt the same way myself. Up until the 2019 election I didn’t engage with politics at all, and it wasn’t until that last election that I understood the power of my vote and swung my vote accordingly.

Just the promise of your vote in 6-9 months’ time is enough to have an impact. It’s the most powerful thing you can do, much more powerful than signing a petition. The sooner you do it the more power it has – it gives the politicians the opportunity to act. After all, I don’t care who is Prime Minister as long as they fight climate change for me and all of us.

With a growing number of Australian personalities jumping on board with their support including Merewether local surfer Craig Anderson, writer, and wife to former PM Bob Hawke, Blanche D'alpuget, and virtuoso Richard Tognetti you’re sure to hear more from Rob and Vote Earth Now.

If you want to make an informed vote at the next election, or just want to be more informed take some time out and visit Vote Earth Now.